Villa Preview: Injury Problems Fuel Transfer Rumours
Arsenal travel to Villa Park this evening for their final match before Christmas. The injury news was at the same depressingly familiar and optimistically unexpected.
Immediate concerns are over the left back position with Kieran Gibbs dire fitness record once more coming to the fore. The youngster has an suffered an undetermined setback which will keep him out for, well, who knows? That has led to speculation this morning that Wayne Bridge is a target – The Mirror will be disappointed to note that their ‘Exclusive!‘ is pretty much carried everywhere else.
Arsène may have his work cut out if the former Chelsea full back is a genuine target. According to Roberto Mancini, Bridge refused to take a pay cut to play for Celtic on loan this season leaving the Italian to wonder if the player was playing golf at the weekend. It is not unexpected, Bridge would have seen Winston Bogarde get paid for doing little more than nothing whilst at Chelsea and I have no sympathy with City since the situation is of their own making; if they pay huge salaries, they must know that players will not take a significant cut just to play.
For Arsenal, I am unconvinced he is a long-term solution, not even a short-term one especially as he has not played for some time at the highest level on a regular basis. He should just about hit form by the time he is dropped for either Gibbs or Santos. Even then his best form for Chelsea and City was not what I would expect from an Arsenal player. Perhaps Arsène will keep the journalists happy by signing Vertonghen?
For this evening, Wenger has more pressing issues. With Bacary Sagna returning to running, the days of playing four centre backs might be numbered well, less than 100. February seems to be the key month for Arsenal; let’s hope it’s in time for the Milan clashes. At Villa, his choice is Squillaci or Miquel. I know the Frenchman is experienced but the partnership of Vermaelen and Mertesacker appears stronger – Koscielny presumably in on the right – which gives the young Spaniard the nod.
In midfield, Alex Song has a break which ought to mean Coquelin or Frimpong come in. Whilst the young Frenchman could play right back, I would prefer him to play in the centre this evening. It seems to me to be a more seamless transition between he and Song. Frimpong brings a more combative approach with a lot of energy. He is a decent passer of the ball as well but Coquelin seems more rounded at this stage of his career. A short loan spell for the remainder of season might do the Ghanaian wonders. There is an element of Patrice Muamba about his career; a lot of potential at the moment but can he make the transition from promising youngster to first team regular at Arsenal?
Up front, Robin van Persie wants to play forever and doesn’t want a rest. I should imagine that he is as excited as the rest of us about his fitness and with three games to go, looking to breaking Alan Shearer’s Premier League record. Just staying fit is good enough for me. More goals are needed from elsewhere and we have a lot of potential to do that. Gervinho and Walcott get into good positions but need more accuracy in their finishing whilst Arteta found at Wigan what can happen if you shoot from distance.
It is interesting that no-one has looked pre-1992 for this record. Possibly they know that someone like Ted Drake, Dixie Dean, Nat Lofthouse, Jimmy Greaves – dare I even say Bob Latchford – probably took the record of 36 goals in a calendar year out in the back alley, beat the living bejesus out of it and tossed it into the rubbish bin. More insidious revisionism by the FA and their broadcast paymasters.
Tonight’s team is likely to be:
Szczesny; Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Miquel; Coquelin, Ramsey, Arteta; Walcott, van Persie, Gervinho
Elsewhere, Luis Suarez’s punishment shows intent from the Football Association to deal with racism and that is laudable. Despite this, there are aspects that leave an uncomfortable feeling about the case, not least of which is that they have previously branded Evra an unreliable witness which in the light of no-one else hearing the comments by Suarez, is contradictory at best.
Equally, defending Suarez by claiming that the words he used were not perjorative in his homeland is a bit like me getting plastered in Saudi Arabia and claiming immunity from prosecution since I am free to do this in the United Kingdom.
And this is before the FA charge Evra for using, in his own words, equally offensive terms in Spanish. The worms are crawling out of the can and swirling uncomfortably around Wembley with the suits trying desperately to avoid them.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.
Posted on December 21, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Rumours. Bookmark the permalink. 609 Comments.